Like this morning, I come down the kitchen stairs singing Que Sera Sera (or something, it’s always different, whatever the “guardian MUSICA angel” puts into my head when I first wake up, but today, Que Sera Sera) which brings back lots of Tea partymemories, and gives me all these great ideas that run through my mind while I’m feeding the cats, emptying the dishwasher, singing, “ I asked my mother what will I be . . .” and making tea.  I can barely get to the studio fast enough (before I forget) to add the new memories and ideas to the book I am writing, and then something happens to me.  I disappear lettercompletely, I hear nothing, see nothing, only a sort of ticker-tape noise in my brain (which sounds just like when my brothers used to clothespin playing cards to the spokes of their bikes . . .very good for hypnosis) and when I wake up a. it’s 2 pm and b. I need a nap, and c. I have to do laundry, get the mail, and go to the market, on oh yes! My Girlfriends, I need to say hello!  This is my problem in a nutshell.  I knew you’d want to know.

Walking through town to the post office (after I spend the morning writing) is a good way to wake up from what sometimes feels like a dream . . . it’s August on Martha’s Vineyard, the weather has been beautiful (actually stunning: last night a HUGE lightening storm, pounding thunder, blinking electricity, sirens, lit candles, pulling Girl Kitty out from under couch) but today, another dry sunny coolish day, just heaven), and the gardens and trees along the way are in full leafy bloom.  The hydrangea practically froths.

July 2010 078

The soil here on the island is acidic (because of all those leaves that are contemplating September. On their to-do list: Change), so most of our hydrangeas are blue, purple or white.


July 2010 080

I love walking on the quiet streets past the old fences, where there’s wicker furniture on porches and in gardens. It speaks to me . . .


white hydrangea



I thought you’d like to see this wonderful illustrated letter that came in the mail yesterday.  A real hand-written old-fashioned letter . . . a different kind of garden, but still, a garden …  it made my day.


lovely letter

(Her toe hurts bet-tee.) I love that a high school girl likes our book, don’t you? That she took the time to write with her review? I love her mother too ~ all that cooking, how great. They are good sunshine-spreaders.  Wouldn’t you like to follow her around for the rest of her life and be with her when she goes to England herself someday? Stand right next to her as she looks out over the Dales for the first time, takes a deep breath and tears come in her eyes because of the beauty?  See the little lambs she drew?  I wrote her back to say thank you and told her to go to the Appendix for A FINE ROMANCE, for my little videos and more England and maybe a little Beatrix Potter . . . 

flower border

Kitty Love

K I T T Y   L O V E

flower border I have left Kitty Love out of both of my last two posts but I woke up this morning with Jack’s eyes about three inches from mine, staring into my face; he seemed to be trying to tell me something.  Notice me.  Not that I don’t, but it is his goal that I never forget for an instant. There cannot be enough noticing.  You have to see what my house looks like.  He hints constantly:


By leaving rubber bands all over the house . . .


They are strategically placed everywhere he knows I go . . .  They are in every doorway . . . MAS MUSICA?


He puts them on his favorite window sills . . .


They are on the kitchen floor . . .


. . .  on the back stairs . . .


. . . in the dining room . . .


. . . in the hall, and he waits.

picked them all up

I picked them all up . . . these are just the ones from the downstairs . . .


I hold one up so Mr. Green Eyes knows I’m getting his hints ~ finally! 

jackie boy

I shoot it just above his head, he leaps off his scratching post, tries for it in mid air, misses (this time), runs to get it, brings it back up . . .

Jack is ready

And points to it.  Just in case I might miss it.  So we can do it again.


and again and again . . .


Girl lounges.  She is fine with it, as long as none of it gets on her.  If the action comes too near, she daintily walks to the door and says, let me out please.  Because, unlike Jack, she is a responsible adult and is allowed to go outside by herself (because she is part chicken and never gets further than two feet from the foundation of the house).


She lords this freedom over Jack.  He follows her every move from the top of the ironing board or window sill or screen door.  When she comes in, he sees her as a neighborhood cat, ie, the enemy.  He lies in wait, he chases her up the stairs, but she is ready. He doesn’t stand a chance. A few growls and he is back downstairs . . . boom boom boom, his feet hit the stairs . . .


. . . and there he is, looking up at me with those eyes saying, Hey, remember me?  Have you seen my rubber bands?


W I N D O W   of    O P P O R T U N I T Y

So, the window is still open, but barely, this is the fleeting  moment, the five-minute opening in summer when the peaches are time fliesripe and juicy, the plums are red and dripping, the cantaloupe is sweet and melts in your mouth . . .  So I thought I would remind you to take advantage of the moment with two delicious recipes you really can’t make at any other time of year . . . First, healthy and ice cold . . .

cantaloupe soup

When it’s really hot and the bees are drowsy, I add “ice cream croutons” to this cold soup.  Little round melon-ballers of vanilla ice cream are a wonderful surprise to find in this beautiful peach-colored soup.  Speaking of peaches . . . you could have soup for dinner, and this  for dessert, commonly known in the biz as having your cake and eating it too . . . 

peach and plum

Peaches and plums baked in a crisp . . . Bake this one for 25 minutes, just heaven on a summer night.  Make your weekend special with one of these recipes.  Peaches, plums, and Cantaloupes . . . the taste of summer.


B  E  C  A  U  S  E

look what's on its way

Artsy fartsy photography, just for you.  We’ve got it all, don’t we Girlfriends?  With lve from me . . . XOXO

love letters in the sand

F O R   N O W . . .

hydrangea border

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353 Responses to QUE SERA SERA . . .

  1. Tessa~ says:

    Oh come now… Surely you sent Maeve a copy of your book… 🙂 Surely you did.
    But it wouldn’t be wise to say this, on your blog. Because it might well prompt others, to (not innocently) try for the same thing.
    But… But…. But…. 🙂 Betcha’ you did. 🙂
    Gentle hugs,

    • sbranch says:

      I didn’t but one of our darling Girlfriends did — in all our names, anonymously! Isn’t that wonderful? 🙂

      • Stacey says:

        I’m so glad a book was sent to her….I was going to ask for her address so I could send one! 😉 I am so charmed that a high school girl loved your book so much.

  2. Ahhh Susan, I love to read your page for several reasons . . . one, it always delights and . . . two, it teaches me that my patience will always be rewarded. I am one of those who checks back every couple of days . . . um, okay, every day (What can I say I live in hope!) to see if you have written and then when I happen upon your page and you have written a new letter to us I am thrilled and I feel like my patience has been rewarded in a very special way!

    Our hydrangea are brilliantly pink and we have one that is white with just a blush of pink and some that are purple with wierd white flower extension thingies. Not sure what they are called, but beautiful nonetheless. If I had my way I would have nothing but hydrangea in my garden, but then again . . . where would my holly hocks, bleeding hearts, roses, lavender, poppies, sweet peas live. Sigh . . . I am a full on girl. Nothing by half measures. That’s me!

    What a DELIGHTFUL letter to get from a young admirer! You must have been over the moon! I would have been so thrilled! How abundantly joyous a thing to have land in your mail box. I am sure you are right . . . she is destined to have a fabulous life and wouldn’t it be grand to be a butterfly on her shoulder as she moves ahead on her journey of discovery and all that life holds in store for her! There is so much promise ahead of her!!

    I love your kitties. I did something for you with Jack on it a while back, then I was too shy to send it. Perhaps I will send it anyways. What is that saying Dogs have Masters, Cats have slaves?? But willing slaves I think. Who could resist that face.

    We have a Spanish girl living with us now. She is a “Fresh” nurse, just graduated from Nursing at Uni and will be living with us for a year while she finds her bearings in life. It’s nice to have someone young and energetic about. I am learning Spanish! Well, maybe only a little bit. It’s nice though to have a YOUNGSTER’S viewpoint in the house and see things through the eyes of youth. Okay, this is supposed to be your blog, not mine so I will bid you adieu and toodle doo. Cheerio for now! Pip Pip and all that! Enjoy August, but remember September is just around the corner and the seasonal fabulousness goes on! xxoo

  3. kathleen says:

    So many of your posts impart what was one of my goals in raising my kids: gratitude. Thank you for leading all the thoughts of your readers in this direction. Thank you for that, it makes for a kinder and gentler mindset. Also, so many women don’t garden now, they are missing out on the healing smell of the earth and the sight of loveliness in a baby blossom. It should be required 🙂 With the rain we’ve received, all the Hydrangeas here are having a party!

  4. Jane Armour says:

    Color me jealous! It is in the high 90s here in Ga. With a hear index of 100+. It is too hot to even think about walking anywhere (unless you are devoted to your exercise routine.). Many prefer to stay indoors & long for October when it will hopefully cool down a little!

    • Winnie Nielsen says:

      HI Jane from bit further south here in north Florida. You betcha, color me jealous!!! We have to really wait until November here before we get less humidity and heat. All the cool fronts just stall at the Gerogia/Florida border. So, to keep my sanity, I have declared August as Apple month for those lucky apple owners who are getting the early green cooking apples and putting up applesauce and pie filling. Then, September 1 is officially when I begin dragging out Susan’s Autumn Book and a few decorations and start dreaming and scheming about yummy things to make and Halloween! I love fall and if I had to wait for real fall, I would be getting out the pumpkins when I am trying to decorate the Christmas Tree!! You just have to pretend so there is time to get all the fun in. Following Susan’s blog really helps because she is on the cutting edge of New England Fall. I have been living vicariously through her Autumn book for years. Honestly. I have it almost memorized and for an autumn loving gal, she wrote everything you need for a wonderful Fall! At least you can escape to the north Ga. mountains and relish in the apple barns, fried apple pies, and blue grass music. It is about 9 hours from my house to Blue Ridge, Ga. Do you like to go apple picking anywhere up there?

  5. Debbie R from Valencia, CA says:

    Delightful. Thank you for such a wonderful post. It truly is a wonderful day when there is a post from you. I get all inspired all over again. Thank you for that. What a wonderful letter you received from Mauve. Love her name. Welcome to the club Mauve. It is a wonderful place to belong. Speaking of ” Fine Romance”, I was in Santa Barbara a month ago and went into this darling little shop “Lewis & Clark” on State Street and lol and behold, there sitting on a shelf was…..your beautiful book “A Fine Romance”. I told the owners how exciting it was to see your books on their shelf. They were excited to have it. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera or my phone and was unable to take a pic for you with it sitting on the shelf. Oh well, some lucky readers will have the privilege of reading your books all the way on the left coast. Happy happy days.

    Thanks for all that you do!

    • sbranch says:

      I love that shop! I love my book being there. Thank you for letting me know. I just found out yesterday, I’m going to be signing books in Santa Barbara on State Street at a British store called Hampstead Village . . . November 8, very excited. Maybe I’ll see you there!

      • Debbie P. ~ Weedsport, NY says:

        Does this mean you’ll be back “on the road again”?! We girlfriends in New York State missed you last year….maybe a stop in Skaneateles? Fingers crossed. xo

        • sbranch says:

          We’re going on the train, out of Boston, it’s not as easy to stop as it is when we have the van! But we’re both dying for a train ride.

          • Debbie P. ~ Weedsport, NY says:

            I understand. I hope the train trip is wonderful. But if there’s even the slightest chance that you could manage it…I would personally pick you up at the train station. Just sayin’…. NY girlfriends love you!!! xo

          • sbranch says:

            How about Westfield MA — we’re going to do a signing there Tuesday 14th of October . . . is that too far?

          • Debbie P. ~ Weedsport, NY says:

            You’re getting warmer! I have a feeling there will be lots of NYers there! I personally cannot complain, Sue…I did get to a signing on the Cape last summer and it was wonderful to meet you. As a matter of fact, George and I are heading to Sandwich tomorrow morning for a few days at the Cape and we’re going to try out the Bee-Hive Tavern that you blogged about last year!

      • Debbie R from Valencia, CA says:

        Hi Susan, That is so exciting that you are going to be in Santa Barbara. Most definitely I will be stopping by :). I missed seeing Hampstead Village. A great excuse to come back and visit Santa Barbara. See you soon.

        • sbranch says:

          I’ve never been there either so I’m really looking forward to us. Thursday nights, everything on State Street stays open later.

          • Mary in Phoenix says:

            Just like Thursday nights in SLO on Higuera Street 🙂 So happy to hear you are taking a train trip! Nothing quite like seeing the countryside from a train window and hearing the sound of the whistle as you go ♥

          • sbranch says:

            It’s been too long, we’re excited!!!

  6. Lynn McCormack says:

    Hi Susan, love the hydrangeas, mine did not bloom this summer, cold winter! Have a great end of summer!

    • Janet says:

      Lynn, I’m in Philly and mine didn’t bloom either! And last year they were glorious – blue, purple and pink spilling all over. I am having extreme hydrangea-envy whenever I see photos like Susan’s.

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      Lynn and Janet,
      No hydrangea blooms in Lancaster Co either! But my annabelle hydrangea blooms (big white) did bloom. But I miss those blueish purple or pink puffs!

    • Martha Ellen of VA says:

      Lynn and Janet, the same here in Va–not a bloom on my six hydrangas! Boo hoo! Next year they will be beautiful, girlfriends! ♥

  7. Barbara Weaver in Hampton says:

    Mmmm, the peach and plum crisp looks delicious! Got some really nice peaches on the VA Eastern Shore last week. Made some freezer jam, but I still have peaches for more cooking. Will try it and wow the family! Thanks, Susan!

  8. salve says:

    A real letter from Maeve Bittle – Most wonderful – thank you!
    August birthdays – in my big family – it starts with me – on the 5th, then nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins all through the month! Happy birthday to all – to your Dad and Joe and the rest of Susan Branch friends!

  9. CarolK (cent'l NJ) says:

    Well Hi there! I saw the most beautiful hydrangea bush in our wanderings today to Carousel Village in PA. It had amazing butter cream colored flower heads all over it and I’m thinking I have to have a bunch of those bushes for the front of our house. A Happy Belated B’day to Jack and an early B’day wish to Joe. Gosh that year went around full speed! I’ve got to try that delicious sounding peach thingy. Our Jersey peaches are in the farmer’s markets in abundance now. Gives me chills thinking of biting into those fuzzy skins. The same kind of chill we used to get when someone would scratch on the blackboard at school. 😀

  10. Martha Jean Starnes says:

    Hi Susan-Once again, your post brought so many smiles to my heart! I just have to say…I am beginning my 31st year in public education and for a high school student to send you a beautiful and charming letter like the one you received, well, that is not only special, it tells me a lot about her and her mother! She read your book t-w-i-c-e and then went into the kitchen with her mom and “baked/cooked” nearly all the recipes! That so warms my heart as I worry that young girls are not as interested in the art of homemaking as previous generations. My hope is that I am proven wrong!

    Your first paragraph brought back so many memories….one of my brothers and I used to do the same thing as yours. We clothes pinned playing cards to to the spokes of our bikes and away we went!!…Truly one of my best childhood memories!

    Summer is ending, school is starting and soon there will be a chill in the air; however, I will definitely try the cantaloupe soup! I’ve never tried this before, but it sure is speaking to me!

    Take care…we’ll look forward to your next post! P.S. My Diva kitty leaves my hair thingys in her food dispenser…after she walks around the house with it in her mouth meowing/announcing that she has one!

  11. Deborah.T.Norling says:

    I love that Maeve and her Mom get to share you with each other..very sweet! I laughed at the collection of rubber bands left for you to find…the fav toy of my cat children is a feather stick.. a bendable 4 foot long stick with an assortment of feathers and a bell at the end…they go c r a z y for it… I swing it around in the air or on the floor and they will leap several feet vertically and down again and chase it like absolute maniacs….especially Elsa who is my wild girl and full of energy…she would play feather stick 24 hours a day if she could….a few nights ago…I woke in the middle of the night and discovered…”someone” had left feather stick on the floor next to my bed…just in case I had an urge to play during the night.

  12. Dear Susan,
    How lovely to find your post of today! As always, its so nice to read your stories, and thank you for making me and soooo many others happy and cheerful!
    We recently returned from Cornwall, where the sun was out most days and the countryside just beautiful! For the 1st time ever we saw seals in the ocean, just off the coast at Lizards Point.
    I thought of you often, and I’m sure you and Joe would LOVE it there!
    There’s a ” pick your own” orchard near here, and soon the plums will be ready. Last year I made jam, and just now you gave me a new recipe….Plum Crisp, cann’t wait to try it!
    From cool and light grey Holland, sending you and Joe and the cats, warm wishes!
    PS I’m posting this a 2nd time, because I wonder if the computer got it all okay? After a couple of days, I still see ” awaiting for Moderation” …..

  13. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Everything about this blog (& comments) I LOVE (yup, had to yell it out!)! Happy heart here, bushels of thanks dear sweet Sue (& all the commenters!)!
    🙂 ♥ & humming Que Sera Sera!! xoxoxoxo

  14. pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

    hello Susan, hello girlfriends. sorry I haven’t been around too much lately, been busy trying to keep the chickens, ducks and turkeys comfy during our recent heat wave ( over 16 straight days of 100+ degrees) now we are in the high 90’s with thunderstorms and dry lightning, which makes everything muggy and sticky, give me the dry heat back, that I can survive. but been out keeping tubs and pools full of cool water and running a sprinkler in the chicken yard to help them stay cool. plus we have had some big fires in the area, so we are also dealing with smoke from the big ones and watching to see if any more fires get started. I am so looking forward to Fall and cooler days and maybe some major rain. it may be nice in New England, and I wish I was there to enjoy the cool and the rain, but if you all get tired of the rain, send it my way… we can sure use it. love the peach and plum crisp, and as soon as it cools down, I will be back to baking. too hot to fire up the stove and cook, we have been living off of pasta salad, sandwiches and barbequing our dinners, easier and cooler. sad to say I am beginning to really not like summer too much this year, and normally I don’t mind summer, but this one is way too hot for me. well off to go fill up the buckets, tubs and pool and check on the barnyard brats. our young turkeys are a handful these days, they have to runaround and explore everywhere, and yes try to start their own turkey parade, the ducklings are happy to be in the adult pen now and literally live in the big pools and splash the hens every chance they get. the heat hasn’t really bothered them too much, but the turkeys and chickens have been bothered a lot by the heat, so have the cats. we live in an area that up until now never needed air conditioners so folks don’t have them and I can tell you that ceiling fans will do only so much to keep the house cool. the cats have been laying under the fans to keep cool and comfy. poor babies its rough wearing a fur coat all summer long. well have a great weekend and stay cool everyone. hugs…. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I try to love summer, but normally I’m not much of a summer person either Pat. We’ve had a good one this year, but it really isn’t always like that. Thinking about you, here comes September, hopefully it will get better for you then.

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      Do you have Susan’s big calendar? When I turned it to August, I thought of you!! It’s about being a farmer! A cute poem and sweet farm animals! Hope the heat wave lifts for you. That’s no fun!

  15. Beverly Brewer says:

    (If this posted twice, oops and I’m sorry.)
    Hello to Susan and Joe from the English Rose Tea Room! Loved the recent post with the frothy hydrangeas (what a perfect description), sweet kitties and the great song by Doris Day. I remember she sang that song in the movie ” The Man Who Knew Too Much” with Jimmy Stewart—I think it was an Alfred Hitchcock thriller and I believe it was filmed in England, so it’s definitely a movie for all of us! I admired her from my childhood and even had a paper doll set with all her pretty movie clothes. As I grew up, I admired her for all the charity work she did on behalf of animals and I know she welcomed many dogs into her home. Thanks so much for such a sweet memory of a special lady! I saw that she recently celebrated her 90th birthday—people who surround themselves with animals live longer!

  16. What an adorable letter from a most sweet young girlfriend. Glad you are planting the seeds of good living in the next generation.
    Oh, and August, last of the golden hurrahs of Summer. You capture it so perfectly. 🙂 Love Jack and the rubber bands. <3
    We planted a donut peach tree a few years ago. It has been weighted down since Spring with branch loads of blushing peach perfection. We just pulled the first harvest off moments ago,so, your Crisp recipe is perfect timing. Yum!

  17. Mary Whiting says:

    Happy Sunday Susan,
    Thank you for “A Fine Romance”. A true work of art that touched my heart more than you will know. I just finished it – in two readings….late at night in bed when I should be sleeping but didn’t want to put it down. When you were signing my copy at the Gladys Taber reunion I mentioned my husband Rick and I were going to England in late April…..one week in London and one week in the countryside. After reading your book I cancelled our London hotel and am renting a flat in Notting Hill – more relaxing, cooking meals in sometimes and getting a truer feel of the area, hopefully. Our country time is at the Bibury Court …thanks to you….and possibly staying three nights at the (Downton Abbey) Highclere Castle London Lodge, if open soon. You are my inspiration and I will take your book with us…I want to share the tea rooms, the countryside and all you value on this first time visit. I felt like I was in your pocket right along with you…. i’m keeping a journal, too. Thank you, dear Susan. You are a treasure to many of us. Never forget how much you touch our lives. XO Mary

    • sbranch says:

      So fun Mary. If you like to walk, when you get to the Bibury, strike out in any direction, follow any of the many paths that lead away from the town . . . Go out front of the hotel, walk along the river, cross over the bridge to the right, and follow it around. It’s very beautiful. I love your change of plans, I think they will make a big difference, keeping everything on a more human and real scale. BTW, Barnsley House is just up the road from Bibury. That is the home of a very famous garden by Rosemary Verey. You have to eat there to go into the garden, so make a reservation for lunch!

  18. Jack says:

    Just now Jeanie was trying out our new Electric Can Opener …struggling to hold the can up in place …..when lightning struck out on the golf course and !!!KERWHAM!!! Like a shot out of a cannon….a thunder clap that almost made her jump into the sink ….she’s in the back getting dry underware right now .
    We are having a cloudburst…. rain drops big as quarters and hail all over like dime size with lightening and slam bang thunder all around . Our outside temp. Has gone from 90* down to
    75 * as I’m writing this ….Just a big Squall and moving off to the West now . It will hit Jerome soon . All of out electricity stayed on , amazing ! And we are still getting heavy rain
    Jeanie just told me it’s down to 70* now …. Twenty degrees in 20 minutes -wow , bring me a sweater ! I guess we’ll make it a picnic … We are having hot dogs and Bush’s baked beans for dinner … Bush was a crappy President , but he sure could fix good beans.

    • sbranch says:

      Hahahaha ! That Storm! It didn’t blow up your new can opener I hope! I love to hear it’s cooler — I hope it stays like that! Jim called today, was so wonderful to talk to him. xoxo

    • Pat Mofjeld of Minnesota says:

      Jack, I’m really laughing at your comment about the beans. We agree!!! 🙂

    • sondra fox says:

      Ooops Jack, I know, you know, you got the wrong Bush. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  19. Teresa G., Lafayette, CA. says:

    I love funny coincidences like this….I read your blog this morning and then left for the Farmer’s Market near my house. There is always a musician or group of them playing and singing and today we had a nice lady singing and playing the guitar. Just as I was reaching for the peaches I hear “Que sera sera….” coming from her and my first thought was, “I wonder if she read Susan’s blog, too?!” Haha It made my day as the little things always do! 🙂

  20. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    So many hydrangeas, so little time. I saw a beautiful bush with cone shaped white bunches yesterday. Scraping deck paint on weekends, but we took a break last week to drive south to Roanoke Island, NC and this week to Chincoteague Island, VA. Day trips…during the week it is back to homemaking and gardening. My poor butterfly flower bed!
    I was glad to see your handwritten letter from Miss Bittle! Maybe all is not lost!!

  21. Marty from NYC says:

    Hello Susan:

    A very Happy Birthday, Joe! –no need to ask, I am sure that he will have something delicious for his birthday celebration.

    We have a cat who is a long-term guest with us. Once a day he graces us with his presence on our bed-which is usually covered with a quilt. He stretches out and rubs his back,His face and eyes reflect how luxurious and delicious it feels. I am sure that it has to do with the tactile feeling of the quilt and stitches against his fur. Is this something that Jack and Girl Kitty like to do?

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t have quilts on the bed, too hot these days, but I have them on the back of the sofas, prime nap area for kitties!

  22. Tammy M says:

    I love the hydrangeas!! They were my grandmother’s favorite!! I wish I could paint them like you do! I did take photographs of some outside a peach orchard in Georgia this summer. Beautiful!!

  23. Andi M says:

    Yay! I have your cookbook, Sweets for the Sweet, so I don’t have to copy the recipe for peach and plum crisp, yay! Nice surprise.

  24. Sheryl says:

    Do you want to read some craziness? After reading your posts I want to sell everything in California and move to Martha’s Vineyard. I dream of it sometimes. I spent my first 30 years living in Ohio and then moved on to California. I NEVER thought I would yearn to go back east. You make it sound so wonderful. I used to have “California Dreamin'” and now I have “Martha’s Vineyard Dreamin”.

  25. Sheryl says:

    One more thing………….I have a huge hydrangea with non acidic soil. I add my used coffee grounds to just part of the root area. This give me pink, purple and blue flowers. It’s nice for arrangements and drying too.

    • sbranch says:


    • Pat Mofjeld of Minnesota says:

      I’ve heard of doing that, too, if the soil you have is not acid enough. I’m glad to hear that it really works. Is it hydrangeas that are called “snowball bushes”? (if they have white blossoms, not blue, of course) 🙂

      • Lynn McMahon says:

        Hi~ a white hydrangea is sometimes called a snowball bush but a snowball bush is actually in the viburnum family~ hydrangeas are in the honeysuckle family~ they share a common name but are a different botanical group ~

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          Also, a snowball bush’s flowers start out green and turn white ~ they really are quite different in a lot of ways! ~

        • sbranch says:

          well done Lynn!

          • Lynn McMahon says:

            ~ I boo booed ~ a hydrangea is not a member of the honeysuckle family ~ it belongs to the family hydrangeaceae ~ a snowball bush viburnum and Chinese snowball bush are members of the honeysuckle family~ I think that’s right now! ~

  26. Jack says:

    We were wondering ? ,……..do you still do your blog …..?

    • sbranch says:

      I gave a speech today. That was almost like blogging, only it wasn’t. 🙂 Yes, dearest one, my darling. I do.

      • Hope you had fun, Susan! Just to be one of the lucky people in the audience would have been so nice! Hope you and Joe are enjoying nice summer days this week!
        Happy writing and painting!

        • sbranch says:

          It was really fun, very different, I’ve never given a talk about the business side of what I do. I was in a panel with other authors; it was interesting to hear their philosophies about the changing publishing business. Thank you Dawn, we are having heavenly weather, it’s the best summer I ever remember here.

          • It’s so nice that you are home this summer to really enjoy the beautiful weather! Last year, around this time, you and Joe were packing up the Fine Romance van to come visit everyone. It’s so hard to believe that a whole year has flown by!
            So many wonderful memories with so many dear Girlfriends! ♡♡

          • sbranch says:

            That van becomes more endearing every day. We thought we’d come right home and take off the decoration, but I think what will really happen is that it will stay on and we will never be able to sell it!

          • It’s a perfect souvenir… for everyone! It was your ‘home away from home’ for a very long time. It must bring such smiles to everyone who sees it. Please wish Joe an early ‘Happy Birthday’ from all of us! ♡

          • sbranch says:

            Not exactly a charm on my charm bracelet, but you’re right, the perfect souvenir!

      • mary spring says:

        …omG !!…Jack !!.. surely you jest !! ..this lady (your daughter) does so much and then some !!!… of course, you already know that she is amazing grace ! …just had to voice !!..with love, as always…

  27. JoAnne Daniels says:

    I’m always happy to hear about Jack’s antics and how Girl is “above it all”.
    Cats are such loves.

  28. Joanna says:

    How thrilling for Mauve if you were to send her a signed copy of A Fine Romance! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      One of our other Girlfriends beat me to it — she sent it anonymously, a signed copy from the Studio, and in all our names! Pretty wonderful!

      • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

        That IS wonderful! Are you going to be making anymore signing trips with the van?? One comment sounds as though you might be getting ride of the van.
        I would have been interested in the panel on the business end of things. How did you learn how to market?

        • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

          I meant rid.

        • sbranch says:

          No, not getting rid of it, in fact, we feel like we will NEVER get rid of it now! 🙂 I learned everything through the basic game plan of hit and miss. I could probably write a book of what not to do. Thank goodness for sense of humor!

  29. judi says:

    Happy Birthday JOE:) Fun to hear you were on a panel with other writers from the Island. Hope you get on the author home tour when they have it again. Have a GREAT day!

  30. Sheila says:

    I love Jack’s bright-eyed, sweet kitty face! Thanks for the smiles you give me every blog post!

  31. Joan Lesmeister says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR JOE – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOUUUUU (forgotten the date, can hardly remember mine), & best wishes for a wonderful, healthy, coming year!!! xoxoxo

    • sbranch says:

      It’s today! I am bringing him breakfast in bed, but letting him sleep in for a bit. Thank you Joan, I’ll let him know!

  32. Mary from Ipswich MA says:

    Once again THANK YOU for the beautiful pictures that always make me so happy. Maeve is the sweetest. Three cheers for handwritten letters!!
    Can’t wait to try the Peach & Plum Crisp. My mouth is watering.
    AND I absolutely love the pictures of Jack and his rubber bands. My Molly is a big fan too and my Greta can’t believe how undignified her sister can be. She would much rather spend her spare time licking plastic grocery bags!
    Happy August to you Susan and all the other girlfriends. <3

  33. Rose Dwight says:

    Last night I finished reading “A Fine Romance” for the millionth time and it was as good as the first time. We have begun to downsize everything around here, especially our books. I have given all my English book to a few favorite people – gardens, travel, food, interior design, etc. – it made my heart hurt! BUT I will always keep my “A Fine Romance” because it captures everything I love about England. You, your words, your art are full of magic. Please hurry and finish that next book.

  34. Susan Cardot Lance says:

    Home sick today Catching up on my reading. Sitting outside on a sunny Southern California morning. Just read the wonderful quote about the “the trees reconsidering their leaves”. Thank You!

  35. Jack says:

    Why is it these people always engage in Looting and destroy innocent businesses –when they have a protest …. That merely denigrates the validity of the reason for the protest!

  36. Peggy Cooper, Pueblo, CO says:

    Maeve Bittle, such a wonderful name for such a special girl. She’s going places for sure. Hydrangeas – I love them! Alas, they don’t do well here in Colorado. I don’t give up though. I couldn’t help but buy one this spring, and since I don’t have a spot that doesn’t get intense sun, I planted it in a big pot and it’s doing nicely. But I hope to find a spot for it in the fall since I know it will need more room. The cobbler sounds divine, so I’ll be heading to the farmer’s market to pick up some juicy fruit this week. Thanks for another wonderful post.

  37. Gert~Iowa says:

    Oh, I love the letter you received from that sweet little high school girl! And what a blessing that anonymous lady sent her, her very own book! (sweetness) And Jack…what fun he has to bring you each and everyday! Oh, and Kitty..she is so regal and precious! Glad to hear from you, and to know what you’re up to! Enjoy your (do I dare say it?) upcoming fall weather!!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, it’s pretty much fall today! It’s a chilly sunny perfect 62 degrees and it’s Joe’s Birthday, so off to the dirt road we go, walk in the woods and a fun day ahead.

  38. Amanda Peak says:

    Oh that Jack- I just can’t get enough of his wonderful ‘crazy eyes’! What a cat and what a remarkable face he has 🙂 Thanks for sharing him with us- he is one of a kind, I can tell!

  39. Thank you for sharing the letter you received. It was so sweet. We are kindred spirits ~ young and old.

    xx oo
    Love, Carla

  40. deborah.t.norling says:

    It’s August and I only just last night had time to open your…”Summer” book..which as I was re-absorbing and re-enjoying remembered how I felt when I first purchased the book back in the mid 1990’s and first discovered…Susan Branch…which at the the time was a rather low point in my life and then..as now..you were my shelter from the storms we all experience occasionally in life….I remember drinking in every word and sentence and drawing and illustration.. .and one cute part.. where you were discussing making sandwiches….you suggested…liverwurst..which…I l o v e ! So as I was falling asleep last night I was reminding myself to pick up some liverwurst today…for a delicious and easy sandwich for my supper…I should have known back then..anyone who loves liverwurst is definitely A.O.K with me!

  41. Lindy Munday says:

    I had have a ruff time since I had to close my Quilt Shop, my health was not good from running shop for 25+ years, I love my store and all the ladies were like friends, I miss them. But reading you blog really lifts my spirits and I do want to see that little girl go to England. I was going to take my granddaughter 16 next summer and now she doesn’t want to go, on the flip side my younger daughter and her family are going and we will go to some of the lovely place you went. My husband and I when to the Lake district and we had a great time, we even have a picture at the little garden gate at Hill Top. Thank you for all your writing and I may have to read AFR again

    • sbranch says:

      Crazy granddaughter. Oh well. I understand. Hate it when they get minds of their own! We took our nieces when they were still malleable, at eleven and twelve when they had little choice in the matter! It’s hard when life changes on you, takes a bit of time to get used to it. Love having you here Lindy.

  42. Sylvia in Seattle says:

    I’m so glad Maeve will be receiving her very own copy of A Fine Romance. It’s thrilling to see that a young person still wants to write a letter!! Thanks for showing it to us — AND for answering her. Gives me hope for the future 🙂 Wish I could have heard your talk about publishing. Hope you will tell us more about this part of your life. However, I wish MORE to see the completion of your current writing project. I’m pretty healthy but I did turn 80 last week — actually kind of hard to realize this has happened — and you just never know.

    • sbranch says:

      Kids are so creative, I would think many would love to write letters if they had moms like Maeve does! OK, I get your message, I’ll hurry Sylvia! 🙂 I’m just glad you are healthy!! Please stay that way!

  43. Kathy Wagner says:

    Hi Susan…I get all excited when I see a new post from u. Love the great stories, recipes, and pics of your beautiful kitties. I just have one question; what kind of camera do you have? It takes spectacular pictures! Thank you for sharing. Kathy from Lyme CT.

  44. Fan in California says:

    I love Jack’s intensity — and his little Poirot moustache is DARLING!!! As always, thanks for another delightful posting!!!

  45. Mary in Phoenix says:

    Happy Birthday Dear Joe! Remembering our special “grand prize dinner” at the Madonna Inn last fall … how you took such good care of us, Susan and the food! A true foodie at heart … just wondering what your cake will be today? You have such a kind heart and interest in people … and your love for Susan is so obvious and endearing ♥ Enjoy your birthday walk and all the surprises Susan has in store … and may you stay forever young 🙂

  46. Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

    Blog-daddy Jack, I have a question for you…I seem to recall that sometime ago you told us about a beef roast Jeannie prepared in the crock pot…it was a small cut, and I think you added chopped onions the last hour or two so they would remain crunchy, but can’t remember what else she did…only that you said it was very good! For some reason that popped in my mind this morning. Let me know if it rings a bell for you!!

    • Jack says:

      Definitely …..here’s the deal ….We aren’t big meat eaters so I cut the roast in half to
      Start , so it was a little bigger than my fist …. Then Jeanie made up a mix of that packaged onion soup with about 3/4 cup of water . That mix and the meat SLO cooked on low , for about four hours when she added carrots and potatoes for another hour then added raw onion for another 30 mins. So they were cooked but still had a little crunch … That’s it , good luck ! Jack

      • Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

        Thank you! I went grocery shopping yesterday and purchased a smallish roast and it’s in the fridge now. I’ll half it tomorrow and try your method. I like the idea of having a little crunch in the onions. We are not big meat eaters either, although we do enjoy the occasional big juicy grilled burger. Our garden has been producing its heart out this year. Growing conditions have been very favorable here in south central PA. We planted Yukon gold potatoes and hubby dug them recently…last night we had baby potatoes, green beans, and a bit of smoked ham, all cooked together for several hours in the trusty crock pot. Also had big flakey buttered biscuits, split in two with fat slices of tomato sandwiched between. Yum. Hugs to you and Jeanie!

        • Jack says:

          Ain’t crockpots the best ! I wish ours was human so I could give it a hug …. Ham bone and baby lima’s tonight with a lot of ground pepper and ice cold salted sliced tomtoes that sting your mouth …. Chocolate mint ice cream sandwiches for desert
          Here in Arizona we call that ” lobster on the half-shell ” , so good ….and warm Safeway bakery, tough chewy bread to sop it up ! Man I’m ready but it’s only ten to four , if we were back there we would have already eaten , you lucky guys.

          • Jack says:

            I couldn’t wait –I just snipped of a bite of that ham and dunked it in that bean juice gravy … YUM ! :~) — we may eat early tonight ……?

          • sbranch says:

            Ha ha ha! A man and his crockpot! That sounds so good Dad!

          • Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

            🙂 🙂 love the hambone and bean soup! Our local Kennies Market has lovely, big, meaty hamhocks. Sometimes I add a can of tomatoes to mine. Changes the taste of the gravy a little, and I agree…you need nice hunks of chewy bread to sop up all that juice. I bought local peaches and plumbs yesterday to make Susan’s crisp. I made “Jack’s Crockpot Roast” last night for supper. It got two thumbs up…well, actually four, counting both hubby and I!

          • Jack says:

            Oh yes , life can taste so good!

  47. sandylen says:

    I hope Joe is having a happy birthday today, and I hope you are having a great day too. How lucky is he to have shared his birthday with Julia Child.

  48. A wonderful post for savoring the last month of summer. These days school starts much earlier than it did when we were kids and it was the day after Labor Day. And, even then, Summer really doesn’t officially end until the 21st of September. Being a summer girl, I cling to the last instant! Come October, I’m willing to start celebrating Autumn. The Cantelope Soup and Peach and Plum Crisp are perfect for savoring this time of year! And thank you for sharing your walk with us, the lovely hydrangeas and white picket fences, and, of course, wicker. I have a very old white wicker chair that lives in my apartment, so I always have a bit of summer, even in winter when my apartment which is like living on a screened-in porch in warm weather is closed for the cold weather. That letter looks like you have certainly inspired young Maeve (lovely name!), and thank you for sharing that treat with us!. And Girl Kitty and Jack…reminds me of a cat world reverse of George Burns and Gracie Allen, although I think George Burns had a lot more patience than Girl Kitty has with Jack, the rapscallion! Thank you for yet another delightful post. You truly are an inspiration. I am going to get off here and start writing myself, something I haven’t been doing much of with the building renovation which has been going on for nearly two years now. We are continually told they are nearly done. However, it can’t go on forever….

  49. Pat Johnson says:

    OMG…..I am back after losing my internet service and missing all of you sooo much! I have to admit that I had to partake of a lot of GOOD wine to get through this loss!! Ahhhhhh – much better now!! I do not have a porch but I do have a patio and I have been known to go out, late at night (usually after midnight), barefoot in pjs, to gaze at the sky, the moon, the stars and breathe in the wonderful night air. What fun!! I have missed you all very much. Now I must return and read all of the blogs I missed. Tah Tah, my dear! You are the greatest!! XXXXOOOO

  50. Maeve B. says:


  51. Maeve B. says:

    Hi!!! Thank you for the book Susan and all the “girlfriends!!!” I LOVE IT

    • sbranch says:

      Maeve!!! Everyone’s been waiting for you. Thank you for the lovely letter!

      • Tawni urrutia says:

        Dear sweet Maeve!
        Could your hear all the girlfriends cheering, clapping and blowing kisses to you and to your mom!? Such a lovely letter and you are such a doll!
        I wish you your best school year yet!
        Tawni Urrutia in Lodi, Ca

  52. Sylvia in Seattle says:

    Yay, Maeve got her book! Many thanks to the girlfriend who made this happen 🙂

  53. Lynn Cunningham says:

    I LOVE re-reading your posts, as much as I have enjoyed reading over and over again A Fine Romance (and the cookery books)……thank you for so many happy hours. And thank you for the pictures of Jack and Girl…..as a kitty lover, I enjoy every description of his antics and her long-suffering “patience”. Amber (my cat) and Bogey (my dog) have a similar relationship! Amber wants to play…..and Bogey wants to be left alone! I keep hoping their relationship will develop, but so far it hasn’t. Oh well…..que sera sera! 🙂 (Every time I’ve read that, I swear I can hear Doris Day’s voice)!

  54. Looking for LAURA ANNE who wanted to buy a painting... says:

    Laura Anne, please email me at [email protected] as I have a painting you wanted to buy. Only Laura Anne, please.

    Thank you for your time.

  55. CarolK (cent'l NJ) says:

    Aaaaaammmmmm, how long was I supposed to bake the peach/plum crisp? The recipe didn’t say and I was so anxious to make it that I baked it for 35 minutes before asking you. It was absolutely divine but quite juicy which I didn’t mind because I floated a scoop of ice cream in it. Maybe it was the tapioca, maybe I used the wrong kind. A day later after being in the fridge overnight, there was still a lot of juice on the bottom of the dish. Is that the way it’s supposed to be? OK, that’s all the questions for now. Hugs from NJ….

    • sbranch says:

      I did leave that off the page in the book, but I put it on the post just under the recipe hoping you would see it. I think you did it perfectly. Juice always depends on how ripe the fruit is, but I say, the juicier the better! 🙂 I actually usually cook it 25 minutes, fyi.

      • CarolK (cent'l NJ) says:

        The peaches were VERY juicy to begin with. The plums were on the hard side. I think juicy is better than dry too. Now that I know, I’ll try it on company next time I make it. It’s a keeper! Thank you…..

  56. Oh, I love when you write of your kitties. We have boy and girl doggies, and they are so much the same! She is aloof, indifferent, lording her independence over the upstart pup of a Pomerarian 🙂 I haven’t yet baked anything with peaches this summer, and I dearly love a baked peach anything. Thanks for that recipe — hopefully I’ll purchase some local peaches today.

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